HE GOT a five-ball duck in the opening one-day international in Auckland on Boxing Day but all that could change for Jesse Ryder tomorrow at McLean Park, Napier, weather permitting.
The former Hawke's Bay cricketer, who honed his skills here as a former Napier Boys' High School pupil, will be looking to reverse his fortunes in what is effectively his second lease of life with the Black Caps.
The former Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags batsman will again be opening with Auckland Aces batsman Martin Guptill who also went out cheaply for two runs to experienced West Indian seamer Ravi Rampaul as the tourists drew first blood with a two-wicket victory.
His former Complete Flooring Napier Technical Old Boys (NTOB) stalwarts believe Ryder has an affinity with the region and is familiar with just about every blade of grass at prime cricket venues.
"He always seems to get runs at McLean Park," says Hawke's Bay Cricket high performance development manager Dale Smidt, alluding to the 29-year-old Otago Volts cricketer's maiden century on day one of the second test before carving up 201 runs against India here in March 2009.
CD Stags batsman Ross Taylor, who has been in sublime test cricket form in the 2-0 series victory over the Windies this summer, was the other player who scored a timely century here and finds great traction when required.
Smidt says Masterton-born Ryder developed a habit of racking up runs from Bay to CD age-group teams from the time he arrived here in his early teens.
"He then went on to score good scores for Hawke's Bay in Hawk Cup and CD at first-class level," he says of a player who left the region for Wellington after falling foul of coaches who didn't tolerate his drinking culture.
Regrettably Ryder's drinking demons prevailed over the years, culminating in a mindless act of public violence that landed him in hospital at Christchurch in March this year.
On recovering, he continued his nomadic existence to the Otago Volts in Dunedin in the hope of resurrecting his international career and, in October, ended a six-month suspension for failing a drugs test.
"I think he always enjoys Napier and he likes to do well here, I know that for sure," says Smidt.
Ryder was in his late teens at the prime of his domestic cricket career so most of his mates were older players who have moved on.
"He's 29 now. He was only 17 when he played for Tech so some of his older friends are married, have a girlfriend, mortgages and those sorts of things but he still gets a lot of support from Tech."
Current NTOB premier men's team manager, Dave Caldwell, also recalls how as an NBHS First XI player, Ryder scored 287 runs at the nearby Nelson Park.
"He didn't have a good start in Auckland but, hopefully, he'll do that here on Sunday," says Caldwell, expecting a "pelter of a pitch".
"Phil Stoyanoff will be preparing a great batting wicket," he says, although he laughs at the thought of rain scuttling New Zealand's attempt to level the ANZ five-match ODI series.
Tech premier mens captain Morten Freer, who played mostly indoor cricket and schoolboy cricket with Ryder at NBHS, lauds the talented batsman who promised heaps but has indubitably underachieved internationally.
"Good on him for not giving up and in trying to get back by taking his opportunities in playing the one-day internationals," says Freer, bemoaning the way Ryder and several other Black Caps batsmen gifted their wickets cheaply to the tourists in almost the same fashion.
"Ryder's pretty talented and I'm sure he'll get his stuff together to go back to his record-breaking ways again.
"He's 29 now so he'll have to start getting it together. He's a good guy who has been barking up many wrong trees so let's hope he'll be back on Sunday," says Freer who, like Smidt and Caldwell, will be there tomorrow to witness what they know Ryder can and should have delivered several summers ago.
The West Indians, who seemed to be going through the motions in the test series, appear to have more spring in their steps in the white-ball segment of their tour.
The reigning T20 world champions have, no doubt, lit the fuse to a summer that promises a higher level of excitement once India arrives here in a few weeks after their tour of South Africa where they are playing their second test against the Proteas.